Tides’ Takes – PGA Tournament Matchup Picks, Props & Outrights: Travelers Championship

Our PGA expert is backing Jordan Spieth to win outright this week.
Image Credit: Imagn

ScoresAndOdds analyst Timothy Buell gives free expert advice and betting picks for the 2022 Travelers Championship! Make sure to use our PrizePicks bonus and Caesars promo code to begin betting on golf now!

Welcome to my new weekly PGA column! I will be focusing primarily on tournament (or H2H) matchups, but if I think the odds are right, I will throw in an occasional outright wager.

Make sure to use our tools at ScoresAndOdds to find the best lines at your favorite legal sportsbook.  

What a weekend it was for golf fans, as Matt Fitzpatrick took home the U.S. Open title in exciting fashion against the world’s greatest players at The Country Club.

It was Fitzpatrick’s first win on American soil and he looked very confident doing it, so I expect he has many more in his future.

This week, the PGA Tour heads to Cromwell Connecticut at TPC River Highlands. For various reasons, the field strength seems to be stronger than we are used to seeing the week after a major. 

Course preview

Now, let’s discuss the course layout for what we expect to see for this year’s Travelers Championship. 

We have a classic Par 70 Pete Dye design that plays 6,852 yards, which is the second-shortest course on the PGA Tour. With the green sizes at an average size of 5,000 square feet, there will be 69 sand bunkers scattered throughout the course. Water hazards won’t be too much of a factor, as there are only four water hazards on the entire course. 

The greens are a bentgrass/poa mix, but the dominant grass on the greens is bentgrass, so for the purpose of rating golfers, I will focus on bentgrass splits over poa. 

Although this course tends to play on the easier side of PGA Tour events, the last three holes are some of the hardest on the course. Ranking 5th, 3rd, and 6th in terms of difficulty and will all likely play over par. There are eight holes on this course that are between 400-450 yards, and two holes that are under 350 yards. 

Those are incredibly short holes by PGA standards. The majority of approach shots this week will be from inside 175 yards. Let’s take a look at some of the past champions, starting in 2021 and going back to 2014. 

Harris English, Dustin Johnson, Chez Reavie, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox, Bubba Watson, and Kevin Streelman.  Winning scores in that stretch have ranged from -12 to -19. 

What I can learn just by looking at the above winners, is that while great drivers of the golf ball can win here, so can the short knockers. 

Let’s take a look at more variables that I want to consider before I start placing bets. 

The rough doesn’t appear to be particularly penal this week, however this course ranks as the 7th toughest for strokes lost from a missed fairway. Given the length of this course I want to find short course specialists and players who standout from the 100-175 yard ranges. 

Strokes gained putting has been a huge factor in determining the winner here and so I want to find players that have been in good form with the putter especially on bentgrass.

The two par 5’s on this course have the easiest scoring opportunities with a birdie or better percentage rate of 38%.  At 5,000 square feet, the greens are the 9th smallest on the tour, keep in mind with that stat though, the distances that the players in this event will be playing from the majority of the time will be 100-175, that is a eight iron to sand wedge for must have these players.  You don’t need to be a great long iron player on this course.  

As always, this article will be published on Tuesday, so make sure to keep out on weather and if there are any advantageous draws when tee times come out.  Also since it’s the week after a major keep an eye out for WD’s (withdrawals).

PGA Betting Picks For The Travlers Championship

Outright picks

Jordan Spieth comes into this week following a disappointing U.S. Open, but I will give him a pass, since he did have a stomach ailment. He did gain strokes against the field in his final three rounds, so the form wasn’t affected too much, and I don’t see anything concerning about it coming into this event. Spieth has played exceptionally well on short courses this season with a win at Pebble Beach and a win at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links. He also has a second at the Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch. This course sets up perfectly for him on paper and will make a play on him in the betting market.   

Following top 10 finishes at The Memorial and the PGA Championship, Steele is in truly elite form. His off-the-tee game fits perfectly with this course and should be able to avoid trouble because of it. Steele’s approach game and ball striking have been off the charts his last two starts and I don’t think I can ignore it. If you want to do a top-20 or top-40 bet, I can’t blame you, but personally I only bet outrights and head to head matchups. Steele does have issues with the flat stick and around the green. I am not too concerned with his around the green game due to his approach. If the putter fails, he won’t win, but if he just gain a tiny margin against the field, he should at least be contention come Sunday.

Matchup props picks

This one is easy for me to put my money on. Bradley is getting an unnecessary bump in the betting markets due to his solid performance in the U.S. Open. Bradley is currently 28-1 and Spieth is 20-1. I do think that this course is a good fit for both players, however, I want the long-term skillset of Spieth. As I alluded to in the outright market section, Spieth has dominated short courses this year. If I am going to bet him to win, I am certainly going to put a full unit on him to beat Bradley in a head to head matchup at -110 odds. 

I seriously considered betting Riley to win outright at 40-1. Riley has some serious upside at any tournament, due to his exceptional all-around play. I think some of the players that were contending late into the weekend will have a bit of let down this week.  For example Aaron Wise, Keegan Bradley, and Denny McCarthy. Wise is a very good player and projection models are going to disagree with me on this bet, so if you want to base your plays strictly on models, this pick isn’t for you. This play is based mainly on feel. I think this is a bad spot for Wise in terms of schedule, while Riley projects to do very well at this tournament.